Washington, May 21: The US is working hard to help Pakistan acquire the necessary will and tools to conduct aggressive and sustained counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the years to come, and the Pentagon will equip and train special operations units of the Pakistan Army for the purpose, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte has said.
Negroponte said this during a hearing of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations. According to him, the training will focus on the Special Services Group (SSG) and its helicopter unit, the 21st Quick Reaction Squadron to enhance its ability to execute combat missions in the border region. The idea is to prevent militants from exploiting Pakistani territory as a staging ground for attacks against Afghanistan, Pakistan and beyond, the Daily Times quoted the US official as saying.
He said the terrorist problem in Pakistan and the terrorist problem in Afghanistan were "inextricably linked. "What happens on one side impacts the other side. Terrorists continue to use Pakistan's tribal areas as safe havens and cross the border to attack Afghan and Coalition forces in Afghanistan," he said and added that the US must design and execute its strategy to assist Pakistan in such a way as to persuade other nations to take the problems the Pakistanis face as seriously as the US does.
US-Pakistan relations run much deeper that the two countries' mutual counter-terrorism priorities, he said and added that the US is committed to building a broader, long-term relationship with Pakistan.
He further said that the US wants to help the new government in Pakistan to strengthen democratic institutions, reform economic structures, provide the people with food and energy and transform the military into a more capable security force for the nation.